Smalleye Spaghetti Eel

Smalleye Spaghetti Eel, Neoconger vermiformis

The Smalleye Spaghetti Eel, Neoconger vermiformis, whose common Spanish name is anguila fideo macarrón, is a species in the Spaghetti Eel or Moringuidae Family, known collectively as anguilas fideo in Mexico. Globally, there are only three species in the genus Neoconger, of which two are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.

The Smalleye Spaghetti Eels have very elongated, cylindrical, slender, and worm-like bodies. They are yellowish-olive with small black dots. They have a prominent dark spot around their gill covers and a visible lateral line. They have a long head, small eyes, and a pointed overhanging snout. They have small conical teeth set in single rows on their jaws, two rows of vomer teeth, and one row of teeth at the rear. Their nostrils are holes with the rear nostril located immediately before the middle of the eyes. Their dorsal fin begins just before the anus; their median fins are continuous; their pectoral fins are small and above the gill openings; and their tail is slender, very pointed, and greater than half their total body length.

The Smalleye Spaghetti Eels are found within sandy and muddy substrates at depths up to 200 feet. They reach a maximum length of 35 cm (14 inches). They feed on benthic crustaceans including crab and shrimp, and also consume gastropods, bivalves, and worms. Reproduction is oviparous with pelagic eggs and larvae. They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Smalleye Spaghetti Eels are found in all waters of the Pacific with the exception of the entire west coast of Baja.

The Smalleye Spaghetti Eel is difficult to identify and is most likely confused with the Pacific Worm Eel, Myrophis vafer (pale gray coloration; large pectoral fins; large eyes).

From a conservation perspective, the Smalleye Spaghetti Eels are classified as of Least Concern having a broad distribution and stable populations. They are seldom seen by humans and are of limited interest to most.

Smalleye Spaghetti Eel, Neoconger vermiformis. Fish provided in pristine condition by regurgitation from a Greater Sand Perch, Diplectrum maximum taken out of 200-foot water off Point Palmilla, November 2013. Length: 15.3 cm (6.0 inches). Tail 56%.